Send to

Choose Destination
S D Med. 2019 Jul;72(7):306-308.

Family Physician Burnout Rates in Rural versus Metropolitan Areas: A Pilot Study.

Author information

Center for Family Medicine, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Department of Family Medicine, University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.



Physician burnout is prevalent in family physicians. Burnout has been associated with an intent to leave practice location. This is especially concerning in many rural areas, which already have physician shortages. While other demographic characteristics of burnout have been assessed, no previously published studies were found that have specifically compared family physician burnout rates in rural versus metropolitan areas. We hypothesized that rural family physicians have higher burnout rates due to increased practice demands and lack of resources.


Three hundred and two graduates of a Midwest family medicine residency program were surveyed to assess burnout rates in rural (practicing in towns less than 10,000 people) versus medium-sized towns (10,000- 50,000 people) and metropolitan areas (greater than 50,000 people). Burnout was determined by a one question assessment tool that has been validated with the Maslach Burnout Inventory Emotional Exhaustion Index.


Ninety-nine surveys were completed. Twenty-five percent of rural respondents reported burnout, compared to 37.5 percent of respondents in medium-sized towns, and 51.4 percent of respondents practicing in metropolitan areas. These results were statistically significant (p value=0.0183).


These results were unexpected and may indicate that a rural practice location has a positive effect on physician well-being, which could encourage physicians to pursue rural practice. A larger study of this issue would be beneficial.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center